Well, we’ve reached that point haven’t we. Nobody wants to write these anymore so they reached out to the person with the least baseball knowledge on the blog to write a preview. If you don’t recognize my name, that’s because I normally write about the NBA and College Football. But now (out of necessity) I’m going to try this whole “baseball writing thing.” Brace yourselves, because this could be rough.
Hey look we are playing the Nationals again! Its not like we haven’t already written 69 other previews about them before! The Nationals come to town barely clinging on to an above .500 record and thrashing around wildly in hopes of attaining a playoff spot. Baseball Prospectus currently says they have about an 8% chance of making to the big dance (or whatever weird colloquialism they affectionately call playoffs in this sport). I can’t in good conscience say that I have not enjoyed watching the Nats self destruct since July. Just look at this graph of the NL playoff odds over the course of this season.
Mmmm, that’s the stuff. You’ve gotta love some good old fashioned schadenfreude. Can you really blame me though? What else can you find joy in when your team’s playoff odds peaked in April? Sometimes you’ve just gotta let the hate flow through you.
The Nationals coming back also means that potential MVP Bryce Harper is back in town. I cannot hate Bryce in the same way I cannot hate Lebron James. I am too wowed by their dominance of the sport to let the hate that many harbor for these athletes creep in. Bryce Harper has a WRC+ of 193, which is the best in baseball among qualified hitters. Do you know what that means? He has hit 93% better than an average hitter. He’s almost freaking lapping an average hitter. Even if he doesn’t win an MVP, this will go down as a historic season. In the past 20 years the only players to exceed a WRC+ of 193 in a single season were Barry Bonds (4 times!!!) and Mark McGwire. Don’t hate Bryce Harper, instead join me in marveling at the greatness in front of us.
As far as the Braves go, well there isn’t a whole lot of interesting stuff left to talk about here. So I will spend this part of the preview talking about the only exciting thing left this season: the debut of 30 year old prospect Hector Olivera. I know he technically debuted against the Marlins, but consider this your primer on Olivera. Hector Olivera was a Cuban superstar who has played on the national team since 2007. He helped the team win silver in two Baseball World Cups, one Olympics, and gold in one Intercontinental Cup. At the 2010 Intercontinental Cup, he won the MVP by having the highest batting average and the most runs scored. He was a dominant force in the Cuban league for 10 years playing for Avispas de Santiago de Cuba. His career slash line was .323/.407/.505 and drew about 1.5 walks per strike out. He is an above average defender and during one season in Cuba stole 21 bases. Most scouts rate him above average to good at most everything, and he doesn’t have many holes in his game. The concern with Olivera is his injuries. He had a UCL tear that kept him out of action most of this season and a hamstring injury that hampered his return. He has missed a lot of playing time in his recent career due to various injuries including a blood clot that kept him out for most of 2014. If he can actually stay on the field next season he could be one of the best players on the Braves, but that isn’t saying much. Hopefully these final few series will give us a good look at what the Braves have in Olivera and how he fits in to the future of the team.
Go Braves, and here is your infographic. Editor’s Note: The guys who make our infographics are on a cruise, so we will have to go without for a period of time. Bear with us.